So now you have the household complete. I’ll warrant you won’t be content. If you are not, there is no satisfying you. When I pour all my political dreams on paper, and shout on to my machine all my disappointments over the attitude of Washington, you take offence. So what can I do? I cannot send you letters full of stirring adventures. I don’t have any. I can’t write you dramatic things about the war. It is not dramatic here, and that is as strange to me as it seems to be to you.
October 3, 1915
We have been as near to getting enthusiastically excited as we have since the war began.
Just when everyone had a mind made up that the Allies could not be ready to make their first offensive movement until next spring— resigned to know that it would not be until after a year and a half, and more, of war that we could see our armies in a position to do more than continue to repel the attacks of the enemy—we all waked up on September 27 to the unexpected news that an offensive movement of the French in Champagne had actually begun on the 25th, and was successful.
For three or four days the suspense and the hope alternated. Every day there was an advance, an advance that seemed to be supported by the English about Loos, and all the time we heard at intervals the far-off pounding of the artillery.
For several days our hearts were high. Then there began to creep into the papers hints that it had been a gallant advance, but not a great victory, and far too costly, and that there had been blunders, and we all settled back with the usual philosophy, studied the map of our first-line trenches on September 25, when the attack began,— running through Souain and Perthes, Mesnil, Massiges, and Ville sur Tourbe. We compared it with the line on the night of September 29, when the battle practically ended, running from the outskirts of Auderive in the west to behind Cernay in the east, and took what comfort we could in the 25 kilometres of advance, and three hilltops gained. It looked but a few steps on the map, but it was a few steps nearer the frontier.
Long before you get this, you will have read, in the American papers, details hidden from us, though we know more about this event than about most battles.
You remember the tea-party I had for the boys in our ambulance in June? Well, among the soldiers here that day was a chap named Litigue. He was wounded—his second time—on September 25, the first day of the battle. He was nursed in our ambulance the first time by Mlle. Henriette, and yesterday she had a letter from him, which she lets me translate for you, because it will give you some idea of the battle, of the spirit of the poilus, and also because it contains a bit of news and answers a question you asked me several weeks ago, after the first use of gas attacks in the north.